What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea affects an estimated 12 million adults and it can pose a serious health risk.

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a person to suddenly stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times each night. This means the brain and the rest of the body may not get enough oxygen. Left untreated it can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke.

Several types of sleep apnea exist but the most common is OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) which occurs when the throat muscles relax and block the airway during sleep, causing partial or complete obstruction.

Some symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring loudly, restless sleep, waking up with a headache, not feeling well rested and trouble with concentration.

Treatment depends on the severity of the apnea, the causes of the obstruction and any other medical conditions the patient may have.

Positive pressure breathing known as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a non-surgical treatment option and one of the most effective. The CPAP device is typically a small air blower attached to a hose that is connected to a nose mask. The device is worn while the person sleeps. Air is blown into the patient’s nose to keep the airway clear and open to maintain a steady flow of airway pressure. It reduces snoring and prevents apnea disturbances. Some people have problems with their CPAP device, especially at first. It’s important to not give up because it does work. Consult your doctor with any concerns.

Oral appliances, also called dental appliances or devices, may be another non-surgical option. There are several different dental devices available. The most widely used is the mandibular advancement device (MAD) which will bring the jaw forward to allow the air to pass over the back of the throat and tongue more evenly while a person is trying to sleep. It is similar in appearance to a sports mouth guard. Recent research found that MAD had a success rate of 74 percent.

The second oral appliance is called a tongue retraining device (TRD). This is a splint that holds the tongue in place to keep the airway as open as possible. Oral appliances are small, comfortable and convenient and a medically approved alternative in the treatment of sleep apnea.

If you have sleep apnea, talk with your doctor, dentist or sleep specialist about the treatment options that will work best for you.

If you’re looking for a way to prevent snoring, Dr. Romano can fit you with a snoring prevention device. Call his office in Bridgeport, CT at 203-372-0881. You’ll be on your way to a a deeper and more restful night’s sleep!

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